Saturday, July 04, 2009

BeneMal Classification Of Games

I think our subconscious identification with the inherent symbolism in a game is an important factor in how much we enjoy watching it. Like George Orwell said, "Sport is war, minus the shooting". Somebody else dies, so you watch?

Today I was watching a game of carroms in the recreational area during the lunch-break, and I was reminded of what a snooker commentator had said on TV a few months ago, when the player had pocketed a ball, "The ball has been released into gravity!"

The free fall of the ball symbolizes a release from suffering, liberation. The ball proceeds into a different plane and we feel happy for it. This is also true when we watch a 100m sprint for example. While the sprint is on, the runners have to keep running (suffering)... up until they cross the finish line and they are released from the forced suffering.

In games, as in life, there are rules and there are constraints. However, there is also an end to a game and we survive to reap the harvest, unlike in life. Sport is life, plus a view into the aftermath. This is what enchants us.

If you look at a game from the perspective of a ball/piece, then games can be classified as:

1) Benevolent Games
In games like snooker and carroms, we try to release the balls from the forces of friction and collisions and boundaries of space. The balls are confined to the table/board and are subjected to forceful collisions (ouch!) and ultimately, whoever liberates the board from the pain of the rolling balls is the winner.

2) Malevolent Games
In games like tennis and badminton, we try to keep the ball within the boundaries of the court for as long as possible. And while the ball is still in the court, we keep walloping it. It's almost as if we hate the ball, as soon it comes near us we hit it to the other side. Otherwise, if we allow the ball to continue in its trajectory and it is still in the boundary, we are penalized. Pure evil!

A redeeming fact though, is that if we hit the ball such that the opponent can't return it, thereby becoming agents of liberation for the ball, we are rewarded with points!

3) BeneMal Games
These are games which symbolize the fight between Good And Evil.

In a game like cricket, the batting side tries to put the ball outside the boundary while the fielding side aims to keep it in. Batting good, fielding evil? Well, Good and Evil are both subjective and relative. If you look at the game from a different perspective, the fielding side can be viewed as trying to put the batting side out of their suffering, caused by their desire to liberate the ball! :)

Football too, both teams aim to liberate the ball from the confines of the field in their own way and believes the other team's way is evil. In the midst of this conflict though, the ball keeps getting kicked around! :)

- Thomas Jay Cubb


  1. Section 2) Malevolent Games -- Incomplete

  2. thanks for pointing that out ashwin. corrected.